This simple caprese panini is one of my favorite swaps to a traditional grilled cheese sandwich. With creamy mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and tangy balsamic, you can’t go wrong.
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The ooey, gooey fresh buffalo mozzarella combined with the sweetness of the heirloom tomatoes and the bite of the balsamic reduction, plus the crunch of the perfect panini bread are worth any price. This was not a one time meal, folks.
How do you say caprese?
Before we get too far, make sure you are pronouncing caprese correctly. If you haven’t heard someone say it before, it can be hard to know how to say caprese.
It’s actually quite simple: ca-preh-zey.
This Italian word is pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, so it should sound something like “ca-PREH-zey”.
And now that you know how to properly say it, why not give this delicious tomato mozzarella panini a try?
What kind of cheese should you use for a caprese panini?
When it comes to cheese, I always suggest using a buffalo mozzarella for a caprese panini. This is not the time to use a shredded mozzarella cheese from a bag.
Buffalo mozzarella has a richer flavor and creamier texture which give this sandwich an extra boost of deliciousness. Plus, you can’t get that perfect melt that you want from regular mozzarella.
Be sure to buy freshly-made buffalo mozzarella for the best flavor and quality. You might even be able to find some pre-sliced slices if you’re in a hurry.
How do you make a balsamic reduction?
The tomato and mozzarella are good in this caprese grilled cheese, but it’s the balsamic reduction that really makes it great.
Making a balsamic reduction is incredibly easy and will add an extra layer of flavor to your sandwich. You can use the leftovers on anything from grilled chicken to a salad and more to add fantastic flavor.
To start, pour a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally so that the vinegar doesn’t burn.
Simmer for five to seven minutes or until reduced by half in volume. You’ll know it’s ready when it starts getting thicker and syrupy.
You don’t want to cook it too long because it will eventually caramelize and harden completely so that you cannot pour it. It does continue to thicken as it cools.
What is the best bread for panini?
When it comes to picking the best bread for your caprese panini, you can’t go wrong with ciabatta. This Italian bread is known for its airy texture and crunchy crust, making it perfect for a grilled sandwich.
Plus, ciabatta has a mild flavor that won’t overpower the delicious flavors of your caprese panini ingredients.
You can find pre-sliced ciabatta at most grocery stores or you can buy a loaf of freshly-baked bread from your local bakery if you’re feeling adventurous. Just be sure to slice it nice and thick so that it holds up to the liquid in the tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.
I actually sometimes use a ciabatta roll and slice it in half. You can also use a crusty Italian bread, though you need to make sure it doesn’t have large air holes.
You can also use focaccia or even a baguette sliced in half lengthwise for your slices of bread.
Why do you salt tomatoes?
Fresh tomatoes are about 95% water, which means that you can easily end up with a soggy sandwich, and no one wants that. Salt draws some of the water from the tomatoes so you still end up with the flavors you want without a sandwich that falls apart.
It takes a little time for the salt to draw the water out, which is why the first step in this recipe is to slice your tomatoes and sprinkle them with salt.
After they sit a bit, you can see the water around them. Before you place them on your bread for the grilled caprese panini sandwich, pat each slice gently with a paper towel to remove the excess water and salt.
This ensures you don’t end up with a salty sandwich, too.
How to Make a Grilled Caprese Panini
To start, slice your tomatoes about a quarter inch thick. I used heirloom tomatoes because they have a lot of great flavor, but choose your favorite tomato that isn’t too full of seeds, like a roma tomato.
Once your tomato is sliced, sprinkle the slices with salt and let them rest.
Next, make your balsamic reduction. In a saucepan, add balsamic vinegar over medium high heat. Bring it to a boil, then turn it to a simmer, stirring periodically by swirling the pan.
Let it reduce to a little less than half the original volume, then remove from the heat. This should take less than ten minutes total.
Alternatively, you can now buy reduced balsamic vinegar in a bottle that you can use and skip this step.
Slice your buffalo mozzarella into slices about an eighth to a quarter of an inch thick. Cut your bread in half so you’re ready to go as soon as your balsamic has finished reducing.
Place the first piece of bread crust down on the panini maker. Layer the fresh mozzarella atop it and then the tomatoes.
Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the tomatoes, then finish with another layer of mozzarella to provide “glue” to your caprese panini on both sides.
If you have fresh basil, add it after the first layer of fresh mozzarella. This is not a place for dried basil.
Place the second slice of bread over the sandwich, crust side up. Close your panini maker and cook for 3-5 minutes.
Serve your caprese panini immediately, and enjoy the mouth watering goodness!
How to Make a Caprese Panini
- 2 ciabatta rolls
- 8 ounces buffalo mozzarella
- 1 heirloom tomato
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- basil leaves, optional
- Slice tomato thinly and sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture. Let rest while your balsamic reduces.
- Place your balsamic vinegar into a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Stir periodically, until vinegar reduces by half, about 7 minutes, then remove from heat.
- While your balsamic is reducing, slice rolls in half to create the sandwich. Slice buffalo mozzarella into thin slices.
- Once the balsamic is reduced, add the bread with the crust side down to panini maker. Place a layer of mozzarella over it, then tomato slices. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over this. Add the basil leaves next if you choose to use them, then finish with a second layer of mozzarella. Place second slice of bread, crust side up, and close your panini maker.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes until the outside is toasted and the mozzarella is melty. Serve immediately.
- You can use ciabatta bread slices, crusty Italian bread, a baguette, etc for your bread in place of a ciabatta roll.
- For more tips and hints, be sure to read the full article.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 598Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 1414mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 3gSugar: 12gProtein: 33g
This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition. If you need exact details, please calculate yourself.
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